May 20, 2024
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Teaneck Arbor Day Ceremony Undaunted by Cloudburst

Nothing could deter the Teaneck Shade Tree Advisory Board from marking Arbor Day on one of the green knolls in the neighborhood. On the wet afternoon of Wednesday, May 16, despite dire predictions of cloudbursts at any time, the hardy members of the Teaneck board gathered on the Greenway off Route 4 and Billington to plant a red maple tree in the shadow of the “Welcome to Teaneck” sign. This year’s planting paid tribute to former Mayor Eleanor Manning Kieliszek, a woman whose love for the environment was evident in all her activities on behalf of Teaneck.

Nancy Cochrane, a member of the Teaneck Shade Tree Advisory Board, shared Mayor Kieliszek’s background, as she cited the coincidence of the event being held on the exact first anniversary of her passing. Cochrane described Eleanor Manning Kieliszek as a “true environmentalist” in addition to all of her other impressive accomplishments.

Kieliszek moved to Teaneck from Brooklyn with her husband Rae and three of their children in 1951. They lived in a small Cape Cod home on Glenwood Avenue after which they moved with their five children to Johnson Avenue. Their children attended local public schools, where their mother served on the PTA and was active in the Boy and Girl Scouts. Kieliszek was a leading voice in the local League of Women Voters and in 1965 was appointed to the town planning board. In 1970, she became the first woman elected to the Town Council and in 1974 served as the first female mayor of Teaneck. During her two terms as mayor of Teaneck, from 1974 to 1978 and then again from 1990 to 1992, she proved herself an indomitable worker for the townspeople. As for her love for the environment, she was active on the Earth Day Committee as well as the Clean and Green Committee and was often seen cleaning up detritus from the grassy areas.

Joining Roby Langert, the longtime chairperson of the Teaneck Shade Tree Advisory Board, was member Norma Goetz, liason to the Environmental Commission, who gave the background of the maple, selected as this year’s planting. She explained that the red maple is a large, deciduous tree that grows to 90 feet and is native to eastern North America. It is named for its red winter buds, red spring flowers, red summer stems and brilliant red fall foliage. It provides nesting sites for many birds, its flowers attract pollinators and its fruit attracts birds and small mammals. It is beloved for its shade and beauty.

In attendance at the ceremony honoring Kieliszek were daughter Claire Preschel, joined by husband Larry and two grandsons, as well as sister-in-law Janice Preschel.

Prior to the actual planting of the maple by the DPW, Sandy Wolkenberg, a member of the Teaneck Shade Tree Advisory Board, read a delightful children’s book entitled “Meeting Trees.”

This year’s planting, as in past years, was in line with the board’s motto: “Other holidays repose upon the past. Arbor Day proposes for the future.”

By Pearl Markovitz

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